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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

FROM   BAHR  TO   DEHMEL                          IIj

Der mite Strom lag stumm undfahl,
am 13jer floss em schwankendLicht,
die Weiden standen starr und kahl.
Ich aber sah dir ins Gesicht

undfuhlte deinen Atem flehn
und deine Augen nach mir schrein
und - eine Andre vor mir stehn
und heiss aufschluch^en: Ich bin dein I

The fourth stanza returns to the landscape (as the boat touches
shore the black, trembling image of the rigid willows fades in the
grey water), so that what we get is a moment's tense drama set
in a mysterious and haunting glimpse of a dark landscape. The
inspiration of the poem was what is on the face of it a sordid
domestic event: while Frau Paula was away at the seaside Dehmel
had an affair with the domestic help, Kate B. Two years later the
girl died by her own hand, and a ring Dehmel had given her was
returned to him by her direction; and this message from the grave
inspired him with the poem Dm EJnge in Weib und Welt. It holds
good of all DehmePs best poems that one must know what woman
they are concerned with and the exact moment of the relationship;
then one realizes how real the feeling is. It may be disturbing to
some that where Dehmel creates something startlingly beautiful it
is when he is seized by this lust of possession. His 'Raubersztm* is
thrust forward throughout the mass of his lyric verse, and there is
a letter from him (No. 3 2) in which he describes the wild hunger
which grips him when a human being comes near him, 'der Eignes
in sich hat. Als ob ein ^aubtier die Nmtern blaht^ fdngt dann etwas in
mir an ^ufiebern: da ist Nahrungfur dicb> mein B/#/.' His attitude is
here, as elsewhere, that he is the saviour (Erloser) of the girls he
deflowers; and the general sense of the tide Erlosungen is, of course,
erotic. This is Dehmel - for better or worse.1

The title of the next collection of verse, Aber die I^iebe (i 893), is
assumed to question that of the first: marriage may be salvation,
but what of love?2 The 'Leitwort points to the themes: 'In alien
Tiefen \ musst du dich prufen^ \ %u Deinen Zielen \ dich klar^ufuhlen. \

1 For the facts of Dehmel's life Julius Bab's Debmelhzs to be collated with
the 'Briefe (1923) as edited by Frau Ida Dehmel; the latter are the main source
of safe information.

2 Mrs Dehmel savs the title shows the influence of Strindberg.